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Under a crude and ungracious Times headline, Jason Allardyce now quotes Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh, writer and TV/radio broadcaster, who notes that keeping most people alive into their eighties is one of the ‘successes’ of modern medicine.
He reflects that doctors fight too hard to keep old people alive, leading to “a medicalised existence whose sole purpose is staying alive long after any joy in doing so has fled” and adds that it is having “a profoundly distorting effect on the balance of society as a whole”, placing a huge financial strain on the NHS.
In his new book, Waiting for the Last Bus, which is out in March, he writes: “Care of the elderly is close to swamping the resources of the National Health Service, turning it into an agency for the postponement of death rather than the enhancement of life.”
He claims that “modern medicine keeps too many people alive long after any pleasure or meaning has gone from their lives” and that old age can be bitter if experienced “not as a period of calm preparation for death but as a grim battle to keep it at bay”.
Holloway, who favours legalising assisted suicide, has found that instead of being “sentenced to years of mournful dissolution” many of them “long to be blown out like a candle”.
Assisted Dying 9: Pretoria judge approves the right to die with dignity, legally exercised in some American states, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Belgium
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Breaching the evangelical Christian consensus, former archbishop, Lord Carey, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu have declared themselves to be in favour of assisted dying for the terminally ill and those in a situation of intractable, unbearable suffering.
In April this year, Judge Hans Fabricius of the Pretoria High Court found that terminally ill Robin Stransham-Ford (left) – who had approached the court to allow him to commit assisted suicide – had a constitutionally protected right to die with dignity. He ruled that a doctor could give the 65-year-old a lethal injection, saying:
“The medical doctor who accedes to the request of the applicant will not be acting unlawfully and therefore shall not be subject to prosecution”.
Robin Stransham-Ford (right) a member of the active Dignity SA, had lived his professional and athletic life to the full. Educated at Stonyhurst, he took a law degree at University College London, becoming a member of the Black Lawyers Association and Advocates for Transformation in South Africa. Lawyer, accountant, tax practitioner and a Chief Executive of a group of reinsurance brokers at Lloyds in the City of London, he served as a wartime commissioned army officer and completed the world’s longest triathlon from London to Paris and the world’s longest non-stop canoe race from Devizes to Westminster.
He had been suffering from prostate cancer and died of natural causes on the same day that the court granted him the right to end his life.
Will British sufferers ever have the opportunities available in some American states, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Belgium?